A History of Kennard Elementary School
The buildings that now make up the Kennard Campus have become such a familiar part of the Centreville landscape that it is hard to imagine that at one time that space was just an open field. Luckily for the town of Centreville, Ms. Lucretia Kennard had the foresight to envision something greater than a farmer’s field on that plot, and she worked tirelessly to ensure that all the children of Centreville, regardless of race, received a quality education.
Ms. Lucretia Kennard, an educator from Philadelphia, arrived on the Eastern Shore in 1903. Discouraged by the poor conditions of the African American schools, she toiled to create opportunities for all students by working for the local Boards of Education. By 1907, Ms. Kennard was the “Supervisor of Colored Schools” in Caroline County. Twelve years later, she attained the same position in Queen Anne’s County. Within this position, Ms. Kennard recruited teachers, developed curricula, and set high goals for the students. She was also instrumental in garnering community support for the schools and during Ms. Kennard’s tenure, every African American school had an active Parent-Teacher-Association.
Ms. Kennard’s job was far from easy as the low pay of $25 a year made teacher recruitment difficult, and the working conditions were far from equal to those at the white schools. Each one room African American school housed about twenty five to thirty students in 1st through 7th grades. The textbooks used were cast offs from the white schools, and there was never enough supplies. Further, African American high schools did not exist nor did transportation, and some students walked up to five miles to get to school, regardless of the weather.
By the 1920’s the “Centreville Colored Industrial High School” was up and running, but it was not equivalent to the white students’ schools. Ms. Kennard, now Lucretia Daniels, worked with local citizens to raise money to purchase the property to build a new comprehensive high school more in alignment with those built for the white students. Unfortunately, Mrs. Lucretia Kennard Daniels died in 1933 before the school was constructed.
In 1936, Centreville’s high school for African American students was ready to open and it was named “Kennard High School” in Mrs. Lucretia Kennard Daniels’ honor. This wooden shingled building still sits on the Kennard campus today. When the school originally opened, transportation was not included for the students and some had no choice but to live in a boarding house in Centreville in order to be within walking distance of the school rather than living in their own houses.
In 1950, before all schools in the United States were racially integrated, Maryland established “separate but equal” schools and this prompted the local authorities to begin construction on a new Kennard High School. This was the beginnings of the brick structure still on the campus today. But, as was often the case, the African American schools were not really equal to their white counterparts as evidenced by the lack of a cafeteria or a kitchen in the new Kennard High School. Rather, student meals were prepared in the Home Economics classroom. By the mid 1950’s additions were made to the original brick structure to incorporate some of the aspects that had been missing in the original design.
By the 1960’s, there were four high schools in Queen Anne’s County, one for African American students and three for white students: Kennard High School, Centreville High School (which is now the Board of Education Office), Sudlersville High School (most recently served as Sudlersville Middle School), and Stevensville High School (currently Stevensville Middle School). In 1966, the new Queen Anne’s County High School opened, consolidating and racially integrating all four of the high schools in the county. Due to construction delays, only part of the new building was ready on time, so students spent half of the day at the new building in their Vocational and Science classes. The other half of the day, the students took their Humanities classes at Kennard High School, in the original wooden Kennard building, or in the Catholic church’s Corbaley Hall adjacent to Centreville Elementary School. By the fall of 1967, the new Queen Anne’s County High School was completely finished and there was finally enough room for all the students to attend all their classes within one building. At this time, Kennard High School’s usage changed to an elementary school.
From 1975 to 1979 the brick building on the Kennard campus was utilized for 4th, 5th, and 6th grades as the Kennard Intermediate School. In 1979 Centreville Middle School opened and pulled the 5th and 6th grades from Kennard Intermediate School and the 7th and 8th grades from the old Centreville Middle School to comprise the new population. The newly vacated brick Kennard Intermediate School became the Kennard Annex of Queen Anne’s County High School and ninth graders attended their classes there. Nineteen years later, in 1998, Kennard took on the transformation that still holds to this day: Kennard Elementary School, housing 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.What started with one dedicated educator’s vision for truly equal opportunities for all of the Queen Anne’s County’s children has grown and evolved over the years, bringing meaning and purpose to countless groups of students. Mrs. Lucretia Kennard Daniels must be proud of the Kennard campus that has grown from the soil of the farmer’s field and, more importantly, proud of the education those students have received, regardless of their race, upon this campus.